I got a phone call yesterday from a good friend telling me she was pregnant with her second baby. Her first baby is under a year old and she was a bit tearful, not because she doesn't want another baby (because she does), but because she is afraid of how the first baby will adapt and because she was hoping for a little more time before she had to transition to a "big sister" role.
As I started to *try* to make her feel better I told her I had the exact same worries. I was so worried about Big Sister feeling jealous and less important than the baby. I was worried about how she would adapt to our new "normal." I did a ton of research on how to make sure that this wasn't an issue. Little did I know that I didn't have to worry so much. She eased into her "big sister" role seamlessly. Sure there were a few instances of jealousy, but for the most part she welcomed this new little baby and her new role with open arms.
While talking about all of this with my friend I got to thinking about the things I wish I had done differently over this past year. Because I was so worried about how Big Sister would feel, I tended to focus a majority of my attention on her and let my tiny baby grow up right before my eyes.
1. I wish I had held my baby more.
When my oldest was a baby we held her all the time. She was our first born so we had the time to just sit around and hold her. I cherish those memories of just laying on the couch, watching TV with a tiny baby on my chest. But because of this she did not like to be put down. She didn't like to swing. She didn't like to lay down to sleep - she wanted someone to hold her all the time.
So with Baby Sister I knew we wouldn't be able to hold her all the time with a toddler running around. Also I didn't want to be holding the baby every time my toddler asked me too sit in the floor and play with her. So we got Baby Sister used to laying in her swing or bouncy seat on her own. This worked because she was very content with not being held all of the time, but I wish that I had taken more time to hold her. It seemed like that itty bitty newborn stage went by so quickly.
2. I wish I had rocked her to sleep more
Exclusively pumping meant a lot of time spent hooked to the pump, therefore my husband fed Baby Girl most of her bottles for the first few months. Our bed time routine usually involved everyone climbing into Big Sister's bed and reading a story (which I loved) and then Daddy would feed the baby a bottle and rock her to sleep while I finished putting Big Sister to bed and then went downstairs to pump. This was incredibly helpful because it meant that I was able to get to bed earlier but I truly felt like I missed out on those night time snuggles because I was tired and just wanted to get done and climb in bed.
On the nights that I would put her to sleep, I would usually end up rocking her way longer than was necessary just because I love holding a sleeping baby and listening to them breath. But I truly wish I had done this more often.
3. I wish I had taken time to spend with just her
I made it a point to schedule one-on-one time with Big Sister, where she and I could go out and do fun things, just the two of us, like we did before Baby Sister was born. I would let the baby stay with my husband or my mom and I would take my Big Girl to the park, to go get ice cream, or ride the carousel. One day I took her to Home Depot and Hobby Lobby to get the things we needed to plant a little garden. I would not trade these days for anything because spending time with her is one of my favorite things to do. When we have these special days I try really hard to let the little things go and say "yes" more, and in turn she listens better and tends to be extra sweet. It's nice to get out of our normal routine and do something fun every now and then.
However I wish that I had taken some time out to have one-on-one time with Baby Sister when she was still little too. If I could go back and do it again I would let someone watch Big Sister for a day while I just spent time being more attentive to my sweet baby. I wouldn't try and get the house clean or work on any projects. I would just sit around and be "lazy" while watching my 2 month old baby lay on my lap and take in the world around her. Or sit in the floor and watch my 6 month old roll around and learn to crawl.
My biggest piece of advice for moms who are feeling the same way I did about having a second baby is to try and find balance. I spent too much time trying to make sure Big Sister didn't feel left out or neglected while my baby was growing and growing and before I knew it she was walking and talking. Take time to spend with each child by themselves. Even though a newborn doesn't enjoy the things a 2 year old does, it is still okay to take time to spend with just them. Let daddy take big brother/sister out for an afternoon and take some time to just hold that little bundle. Don't do the dishes. Don't sweep the floor. Don't put the toys away. Just sit there and enjoy your baby while you still can.
Because time goes by even quicker the second time around.
I'd love to hear from second time parents - did you have these same feelings with your second baby?